Michael Feinstein - Delightfully Unexpected


Did you ever go somewhere expecting to do or see something and have a completely unexpected experience? Recently a friend called with a last minute invitation to see Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall. I love Feinstein. I love Gershwin. It had been a hectic time and I blurted out a "Yes", without thinking about how tired I was until I found myself in a taxi in yet another New York City snowstorm.

Shana Alexander

Shana Alexander

We got settled in our seats and Feinstein did as only Feinstein can do. He sang, taught, cajoled, mesmerized and entertained us. I found myself swaying to the music and so true to Gershwin and Astaire; I journeyed back to my first wedding. It was East Hampton, in the garden of Shana Alexander. A woman who helped shape my very soul. Shana was the first female journalist on CBS 60 minutes Point/Counterpoint with James J. Kilpatrick. And she wrote the book 'Very Much A Lady' about Jean Harris, my first mother-in-law. Hers was an extraordinary career. But always, she was the daughter of Milton Ager, who wrote the songs, 'Ain't She Sweet' and 'Happy Days Are Here Again'.

Shana had known Michael since he was a teenager and introduced me to him many years ago when we all made the pilgrimage from East Hampton to see him at The Regency with Jean for her birthday. After the Carnegie Hall performance we were fortunate enough to go backstage for a brief moment. I had a chance to share with him a special someone we had in common. Our eyes met and we both drifted to a place we hadn’t expected to go that day. 

Sand Mandala at Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery

When my friend Anne Kirkup invited me to come to The Asia Society and have a look as the four Monks from the Drigung (Drikung) Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism create an amazingly intricate and beautiful sand mandala in conjunction with the opening of the Golden Visions of Densatil: A Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, I practically flew across the park. The position the monks had to maintain, squatting on the floor or perched on small stools looked like the set up for a chiropractor’s dream. And there they were in their saffron and crimson glory. Carefully, with the most delicate and directed touch, bringing color to the drawing, sometimes even blowing delicately to create the proper shape and all I can think of is that crazy cocaine moment in Annie Hall.

A Sand Mandala is a painting, a sacred cosmogram representing the world in perfect harmony. It may be used to focus attention, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation. The monks use small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, called chak-pur to form the mandala, representing the world in its divine form. 

There are thrills and there are thrills but nothing compares to shaking hands with the monks during their break. All smiles as they gathered in the hallway, I introduced myself and thanked them for their dedication and the beauty they brought to the day. When they offered their hands their grasp was so electric as to make my heart open and sing in ways I had never imagined. Joking and giggling and asking if I would like to be an assistant, their joy was contagious. I always marvel at the playfulness and joy I feel when in the presence of Tibetans.

I practically skipped across the park and back to work.And FYI,The destruction of a sand mandala is also highly ceremonial. The deity syllables are removed in a specific order, as is the rest of the geometry until the mandala is dismantled. The sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and transported to a river (or any place with moving water), and released back into nature symbolizing the impermanence of life and the world. I would be delighted to be invited back to observe them, again and again.




"A Musical Celebration of Broadway" - Drama League Gala 2014

Neil Patrick Harris has to be one of the cutest guys ever. This was the second year I co-chaired the Drama League Gala, A Musical Celebration of Broadway, with the amazing Ellen Fox. Aside from being totally gorgeous, Ellen is an absolute dream to work with. I love her because she owns her power. Ellen is a force in the Financial World and sets an amazing example for her daughter and all the women she so generously devotes her time to.

Ellen Fox, Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Eller - Drama League Gala 2014

Ellen Fox, Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Eller - Drama League Gala 2014

The DL celebrated its 98th year, right there that’s impressive.  The event is the best ticket in town if you love the theater. This year the show was directed by Michael Mayer and Johanna McKeon, two of the many illustrious alumni of The DL’s Director’s Project and they will be Director and Associate Director of the revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch Starring NPH which just happens to open on my birthday!

I cant say enough about Neil and the love he generates in the community. The night was magical. Cady Huffman, Audra McDonald, Katie Finneran, Tim Gunn, Stephen Colbert, Norm Lewis and the cast of Rent, were just a few who helped  make the evening so special. For me, the roof blew off the Pierre when Neil’s fiancé of eight years, David Burtka, sang Sondheim’s “Marry Me A Little” from the show Company. Once again I have proved there is no such thing as waterproof mascara as I just wept with happiness feeling the love in that room. Thank god the glue from my lashes held tight.

This pic of Ellen, Neil and me is a special moment. Just as the flashes popped, NPH said “Are you wearing a leather dress? That’s hot!” I replied “…yes I am, and you can borrow it for Hedwig any time” We all laughed and I will remember that moment forever.